Move to form National Children Rights Commission initiated

The government has initiated a move to establish a Child Rights Commission to ensure rights of the children, protect them from violence and build awareness of child rights.
State minister for women and children affairs Meher Afroz Chumki told New Age on Tuesday that they were now working on the draft of a bill for the enactment of a law on the establishment of the commission as about half of the country’s population were under the age of 18 years.
She said that they were also working to establish a separate directorate for the children.
‘We are expecting to establish the commission and the directorate for children before Bangladesh becomes a middle-income country,’ she said.
Ministry officials said that the ministry held two inter-ministerial meetings on September 21, 2016 and November 10, 2016 on the draft bill.
They said that representatives from 17 ministries concerned and civil society and child rights activists attended the meetings.
The ministry also held a core meeting the National Human Rights Commission and rights organisations Save the Children and Ain o Salish Kendra on the draft bill on December 21, 2016.
The National Human Rights Commission referred to the ministry in 2016 the draft of the National Child Rights Commission Bill prepared by rights organisations Ain o Salish Kendra and Save the Children, the officials said.
They said that the government initiated the move in a situation while government officials and child rights activists expressed grave concern over child rights abuses and increasing violence against children.
The draft bill proposes provisions for the establishment of an independent three-member National Child Rights Commission, including the chairman. The commission would include at least a woman.
The proposed commission would make recommendations to the parliament, any government, semi-government, autonomous and private institutions and organisations to improve child rights situation, the draft says.
The commission may investigate any incident of child abuse and would exercise the power of civil court under the Civil Procedure Code, it says.
If enacted, the draft bill would empower the commission to pass interim orders asking the government, public or private offices, public servants or individuals to do or to refrain from doing something pending investigation into any incident of alleged child rights abuses either on an allegation filed by any person or suo moto.
It proposes empowerment of the commission to inspect any house, shop, institution, factory or any other place and collect information and evidences.
Any person would be punishable with imprisonment for one year, or a fine of Tk 50,000 or with both for any violation of an order of the commission, says the draft.
National Human Rights Commission chairman Kazi Reazul Haque said that a Child Rights Commission was necessary as 45 per cent of the country’s population was under the age of 18 years who were unable to complain about violation of their rights.
The killing of children by people, including parents, have increased significantly along with higher number of incidents of rights abuses against children with disabilities, especially the girl children, he said.
Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum chairman Md Emranul Huq Chowdhury said that the proposed commission would put pressure on the government through legal procedures.
According to a report of the forum on the state of child tights, the number of children killed by parents increased by an alarming 57.5 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015.
The report said that 3,589 children fell victims to violence in 2016, including 1,441 unnatural deaths and 686 sexual violence and harassment.
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